Ok, so what is a hacker?
- A hacker is anyone that gains access to a computer system without authorisation or in an unauthorised way. They have a high level of technical know-how but did you know there are different types of hackers?
Wait, what are the different types of hackers?
- Hackers are referred to by the colour ‘hat’ they wear, as a reference back to old Westerns when the good guy would wear a white Stetson and the bad guy wears the opposing black Stetson.
- The 3 types of hackers are black, grey, and white hats.
Black Hats –
- These are the people that spring to mind when you hear the word hacker – they have destructive intentions. Their goal could be to cause damage, steal data or money, cause chaos, or just have fun (yes, really).
- The most notable black hats tend to be a collective like Anonymous, who we’ll use as an example.
- Anonymous became active in 2003 on the forum site 4chan and continuing today. Usually, they carry out attacks for political reasons such as fighting hate crimes, fighting terrorism recruitment and communication, support freedom of speech, and net neutrality. Whilst Anonymous’ attacks may be for a cause and considered morally ok by some, this doesn’t make them legal. Targets of this group include the Church of Scientology, a huge range of government agencies across the globe, and big corporations such as PayPal and Visa.
White Hats –
- Now to the other end of the spectrum. White hats are our good guys – they hack to test systems and discover vulnerabilities before people with more nefarious intentions get access. They always have permission to attack a system.
Grey Hats –
- The mysterious third option, grey hats have questionable intentions but they aren’t out to cause harm. They generally do similar things as white hats, just without permission. Sometimes they simply do it for a challenge and to learn a skill.
- Examples of Grey Hats:
- 2015 – A group of grey hats, ironically called the ‘white team’, releases a piece of malware that closes security holes in several models of Linux routers.
- 2017 – A grey hat makes over 150,000 printers print a message to their owners about the dangers of leaving your printer exposed online and instructions on how to patch them and stop other attacks.
- 2018 – A Russian grey hat hacker hacked into over 100,000 routers and patches them without consent to stop other people hacking into them. He left a text file note in each router explaining what he had done.
What’s the best way to protect yourself from hackers?
- The best way to fend off a hacker is to have all the latest updates and patches installed for all your devices. Yes, installing updates takes time and can be annoying, but it is an essential step in protecting your data from outside attackers.
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